…until a couple weeks ago when I was in Carrefour’s meat section, doing my usual food shopping. For some strange reason, I kept staring at this messy pile of plucked chickens, with small tufts of hair still sticking out here and there. And then I looked around at the other displays: the pig heads, the huge piles of cow spines and ribs — and suddenly it all seemed so, well, inhumane. The raw depravity of it is so blatant here in Chinese markets (I live in Beijing), and I actually prefer the sheltered ignorance from my American sanitized supermarkets, where you are so separated from the slaughterhouse that you completely lose touch with the process of farm-to-table. In American markets, you would never, ever see a head or eyes on any meat, even on most fish. I much prefer not to have my dead meat staring back at me, thank you very much.
So I am now facing a typical liberal’s guilt/dilemma: humans are biologically adapted to be meat-eaters, but with modern food technology we no longer have to eat meat. And it is more and more clear that humanity’s appetite for meat has a massively negative impact on our environment. And I am also increasingly uncomfortable with most livestock farms’ depraved living conditions, as well as the way most animals are killed, which obviously involves pain. There are also clear health reasons for avoiding the most common cow meat, as this red meat has been shown to lead to more heart disease and other illnesses (I’ve mentioned a few of these studies before).
So, I’ve made a personal decision to cut back on meat — not totally, just a bit for now, and let’s see how things go. I chose first to stop eating meat on Mondays after I discovered one website, called Meatless Mondays, which started as a public health campaign from Johns Hopkins. They ask people to not eat meat on Mondays as a not-too-intrusive way for all of us to start thinking more about the negative impacts of eating meat. They also have a good collection of PDF toolkits for communities and schools. I think one day a week is easy for all to do, and I think this is a healthy debate for all of us to consider. What do you all think? Who wants to join me?
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